Photo Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Mitt Romney was clearly pumped after his double digit victory in Florida over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. I, and tons of others, tweeted a line Romney uttered near the top of his victory speech. “A competitive primary does not divide us, it prepares us and we will win,” the former Massachusetts governor said, with his wife Ann and his children beaming behind him.
But no sooner did I and others send our tweet when Ron Fournier, one of the best political writers and reporters in the business, editor-in-chief of National Journal, tweeted, “History and common sense tells you Romney is wrong. Tough primary hurts GOP." And then I quickly clicked to Fournier’s story, "A Li-Mitted Victory for Presumptive GOP Nominee." (Great headline!) Fournier’s piece shows that a bitter primary fight – such as the one Romney and Newt Gingrich have starring roles in – does not bode well for victory. Of the five contested GOP primary battles in the 20th century, according to National Journal, only one resulted in victory, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.
So don’t go popping those champagne bottles just yet, Mitt Romney, especially because Newt Gingrich, in his speech to Florida voters, vowed to fight on in the next 46 states. And yes, he went after the “elite media" again, saying, “I just want to reassure them tonight. We are going to contest in every place and we are going to win."
That said, Newt faces a boatload of challenges – Romney’s national infrastructure and massive pockets, only one debate in February and losses, according to Florida exit polls, ito Romney in just about every demographic group, including women. Romney faces problems of his own, including how nearly 40 percent of Florida GOP voters who went to the polls wish someone else would get into the race, according to exit polls.
So folks, fasten your seat belts. Heres’s what you should be on the look out for over the next few weeks:
Mitt Romney will likely keep up the attack on Newt Gingrich and Newt on Romney unless GOP party influencers convince Newt Gingrich to step out of the race. Not likely.
What Happens In Vegas Doesn't Stay in Vegas
The candidates head to Nevada for the next contest, a caucus on Saturday, and then there are a series of contests throughout February until Super Tuesday, on March 6th, which is often viewed as a national primary, with 10 states holding contests that day.
No More Weekly Debates
If you have been enjoying your two debates a week, we are sorry to say there will be only one in February -- on February 22 -- a debate that could be a very important opportunity for Newt Gingrich to change the trajectory for Romney.
Connect, Connect, Connect
Mitt Romney keeps getting this question – why hasn't he been able to truly connect with Republican voters? If he can’t answer that question before sealing up the nomination, he will have an uphill climb wooing over voters in a general election, especially the women who voted for President Obama in 2008 but are undecided now – the women who will decide the election.
But, all of the above said, this race has been impossible to predict from the very beginning, so who knows what will happen next? I admit -- it makes it that much more fun to follow!
Kelly Wallace is Chief Correspondent of iVillage and a former White House Correspondent and political correspodent. Follow Kelly on Twitter.